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Need to Know: Should the Redskins pass more on first down in 2016?

Need to Know: Should the Redskins pass more on first down in 2016?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, May 25, 64 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.


At Redskins Park: OTA practice open to media 11:30; players available after practice; Jay Gruden news conference approx. 1:30.

—The Redskins last played a game 136 days ago. It will be 110 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 64; Preseason opener @ Falcons 78; Final roster cut 101

Pass more on first down?

There was plenty of debate over the course of the season that the Redskins should “pound the rock” more in first down. But the numbers indicate that they may have run on first down more than they should have.

Kirk Cousins (the only player to attempt a first-down pass in 2015) dropped back to pass 207 times on first down. He completed 145 passes for 1770 yards and he was sacked nine times for 75 yards in losses. On average the Redskins gained 8.2 yards per pass on first down.

They ran the ball on first more often than they threw, 238 times (53.5% of first-downs snaps). Those runs gained 781 yards, or 3.3 per play. You don’t have to be a math wizard to figure out that they gained well over twice as many yards by passing on first down than they did by running.

In case you’re wondering about turnover factor, Cousins threw two interceptions on first down and there were no fumbles in first-down running plays. Perhaps a valid reason for running on first but you'd have a hard time convincing me that turning it over on less than on percent of the passes should be much of a deterrent considering the yardage differential on first down.

Those numbers show us all game situations including some when the other team might be in a prevent defense and giving the Redskins the 10-yard passes while playing to prevent the deeper balls. So let’s narrow it down a bit and try to find “normal” situations.

Let’s look at how effective the plays are when you the game is competitive. When the game was within 10 points either way in 2015, the Redskins ran considerably more on first down, 166 times (56.8%), than they passed, 126 times (43.2%). But they averaged 3.3 yards per rushing play and 9.3 per passing play. Why not flip flop the play selection and pass more like 60 percent of the time? Looking at the numbers, you can legitimately ask why they should run on first down at all.

Of course, these numbers don’t tell the whole story. A team has to have a certain degree of unpredictability so the defense can’t stack up to stop the play. But if I’m Jay Gruden I am spending some time figuring out the minimum number of times I can run the ball on first down and still have the opposing defense honor it.

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Terrelle Pryor reportedly closing in on deal with new team

Terrelle Pryor reportedly closing in on deal with new team

Former Washington Redskin Terrelle Pryor may have found a new home after a tumultuous season in Washington.

The 28-year-old wide receiver appears to be on the way to the New York Jets for the 2018 season according to Ian Rappaport.

Last season, Pryor only played in nine games for Washington and was sent to injured reserve after Week 11. His season ended with ankle surgery and it closed the book on a short stint in the nation’s capital.

In his nine games, he never got on the same page with former Redskins’ quarterback Kirk Cousins. Targeted only 37 times, the six-year veteran only had 20 receptions for 240 yards and a single touchdown.

This is coming after a 1,000-yard season on the dismal Cleveland Browns team that went 1-15 in 2016. As a free-agent, he signed with Washington on a ‘prove-it’ deal for one-year, eight million last off-season. He was expected to a significant amount of touches alongside Josh Doctson.


With so much anticipation it was easy to say that Pryor’s lone season in Washington was a disappointment.

If he does sign with the Jets, Pryor joins a New York franchise that is still continuing to rebuild. They currently own the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and are in search of a quarterback.  A year ago they finished 5-11 under third-year head coach Todd Bowles.

Transitioned to wide receiver in Cleveland, Pryor was drafted into the league as a quarterback.  He spent three seasons in Oakland (2011-13) all as a quarterback making 10 starts. In Cleveland (2015-16) he made the transition to wide receiver before going to Washington in 2017.


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Good news Redskins fans: Jason Pierre-Paul shipped out of NFC East


Good news Redskins fans: Jason Pierre-Paul shipped out of NFC East

The Giants shipped out Jason Pierre-Paul for life as a Buccaneer, and in turn, Tampa will send a third and fourth round draft pick to New York.

Moving Pierre-Paul comes at a curious time for the Giants. The team will eat $15 million of dead money in the move, and New York also sent a fourth-round pick to Tampa as part of the transaction. 

What it definitely signals is that Big Blue looks to be moving from a 4-3 base defense to a 3-4 look. Additionally, with the second overall pick in the NFL Draft in April, maybe the Giants will seriously look at NC State defensive lineman Bradley Chubb. 


For the Redskins, seeing Pierre-Paul leave the NFC East is welcome news. He has 12.5 career sacks against Washington QBs, the same amount he has against the Eagles and Cowboys combined. 

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